I know what I should resolve. Going with the traditional guilt-inspired self-improvement theme, I ought to watch my language, eat my vegetables, clean up the dooryard, and stop interrupting. We’ll see.

Along with millions of Americans, I ought to go through the backlog of hundreds of e-mails and photographs in various devices and get rid of most of them. It’s the electronic version of sorting out the kitchen junk drawer. On one camera I have saved two hundred some-odd photographs providing detailed documentation of how to change out a Detroit Diesel engine and generator set in a very small powerhouse using pipe rollers and lots of little scraps of physics. I thought such photographs might be of future interest to somebody. That may be a stretch.

Real goals for the year are more like, “Make a neat, clean, straight cut with the oxyacetylene torch, and then do it again so you know it wasn’t an accident.” Beats working on improving one’s teeth-flossing technique, anyway.

It has been suggested that I resolve not to get quite so wrought up about the mean-spirited and the misinformed who have nothing better to do with their time and their Internet connection than to insult mild-mannered newspaper columnists in the “online comments section.” There seem to be a few readers who have chosen as a hobby the art of affirming that said columnist is exactly what’s wrong with America. They then proceed to rave and rant about some entirely unrelated issue. Now, I am as firm a believer as anybody in the right of everybody to express an opinion, indulging in that recreation myself from time to time, hopefully with a little proofreading — but some of the responses we get to our deliberate and thoughtful commentary amounts to “Yeah, well, you’re ugly and your mother wears army boots!” Only it would more likely be, “Your ugly and you’re mother wears army boots!” 

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Army boots, that is.

I am reminded of a quote I liked from my otherwise unremarkable high school American history textbook. Supposedly some of the folks displeased with the words of newspaperman Horace Greeley (the guy who supposedly said, “Go west, young man,” and all that) referred to Greeley as “an atheist, a communist, a free-lover, a vegetarian, a brown-bread-eater, and a co-signer of Jefferson Davis’ bail bond.” So there. Those guys would have loved an online comments section.



So anyway, whether I manage to rise above worrying about the comments, or clean out my e-mails, or produce a little docudrama about how to move a diesel engine, allow me to offer a couple of suggestions having nothing whatsoever to do with losing five pounds or quitting anything.

Take a CPR class, and not necessarily because you will ever be called upon to do CPR, although you never know. Even if you do not feel you have the strength or the flexibility to get down on your knees and do hard, fast compressions on somebody’s chest, there are good reasons to sit through the three-hour session. The AED — automated external defibrillator — is a safe and user-friendly device that anybody can learn to use in a few minutes, and it could make a big difference. Even just knowing what an AED is, and being the person who goes to retrieve it in a public place, makes you helpful in somebody’s cardiac emergency, more helpful than many. Perhaps the most valuable thing about the CPR class, though, is the internal conversation you will invariably have with yourself about getting involved. CPR does no good at all if it isn’t done NOW. There is no time to hesitate. Many of us were taught somewhere along the line not to get involved. We have internalized worries like, “I must leave it to the professionals,” or “I’ll get sued,” or “I’ll catch some dread disease,” or “If I don’t remember the correct number of compressions I’ll make things worse.” No, no, no and no. Get involved.

Check your smoke detectors, change the battery if it’s been awhile, and perhaps vacuum them. Have some winter supplies in your vehicle. Keep working flashlights and a few gallons of drinking water on hand all the time in case of power outages; the traditional flurry of frantic shopping the day before a forecast storm is just plain silly. Own some kind of traction device for your shoes, like “stabilicers” or some other brand, for safe walking on ice, and keep rock salt by your door for the steps. If you haven’t used it by spring, you can make ice cream.

Maybe as a New Year’s resolution, more of us might resolve to make homemade ice cream once in a while. I do hereby resolve the same.